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Introvert work meeting

Overcoming Meeting Anxiety: An Introvert’s Guide to Shining in the Workplace

Overcoming Meeting Anxiety: An Introvert’s Guide to Shining in the Workplace

Picture this – you are in a meeting. You feel pressured to say something because it feels like the right thing to do. You want to speak up, but you need more time to process everyone’s ideas first. You’re eager to demonstrate your value to your coworkers and boss, yet you find yourself holding back. Sounds familiar? These are some of the challenges Introverts often encounter in the workplace.

Introvert work meeting

What is Introversion?

Before we dive into how introverts can navigate the workplace, let’s first explore the nature of introversion. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is arguably the most widely recognized personality assessment recently. Rooted in the principles formulated by renowned psychologist Carl Jung, the MBTI conceptualises introversion as a preference for directing one’s focus inward. As a result, introverts tend to be more introspective, drawing energy from reflecting on ideas and experiences. A key consequence of this inclination is that introverts are often drained by social interaction, and feel more inclined towards solitude.

Despite scientific evidence, the ideal worker is often portrayed as an extrovert. This perception casts introverts as disadvantaged in the workplace. However, introverts possess unique strengths that are highly valuable. Moreover, learning to develop complementary extroverted skills can also help introverts thrive in a variety of roles and environments.

The Trap of Rigid Self-Identification

Due to the popularity of MBTI, many people took the test and defined themselves according to the results. It is not uncommon nowadays to share and exchange stereotypes about MBTI as an ice-breaker. Despite the applauding social value, the proliferation of MBTI has led to a phenomenon where individuals can become overly fixated on their type, presenting themselves as static “Introverts” or “Extraverts.”

While it is great to gain a deeper understanding of oneself, curating your identity solely base on your MBTI can be unhealthy. In psychology, there is a phenomenon called cognitive rigidity. Defined as the inability to mentally adapt to new demands or information, cognitive rigidity is the product of repeated reinforcement of a belief, and resistance to change even when situational demand renders this belief ineffective. Repetitive self-labelling as an “introvert” can lead to cognitive rigidity, modelling more introverted behaviours and a reluctance to adopt beneficial extraverted skills, even when situationally appropriate.

It’s natural to avoid discomfort, especially when you feel being extroverted is inauthentic. However, as clever consumers of MBTI, we need to know that the MBTI is designed to provide insight into your natural tendencies and preferences, not to limit your potential. Rather, it highlights your strengths and points to areas for growth.

In fact, it’s important to develop the awareness that throughout the day, there are times when we all need to access more extroverted qualities for tasks that require sensing and feeling. The goal should be to enhance strengths and develop weaknesses – including cultivating extroverted skills when situationally appropriate, as no one can be 100% introverted all the time. Rigid self-identification will inhibit personal growth.

How to Become More Extroverted for Meetings?

Recognising the need to access extroverted capacities is the first step. The next challenge is putting this into practice, especially in professional settings where more extroverted behaviours may be expected or beneficial.

One common obstacle that introverts often face in the workplace is actively participating in meetings. While extroverts may be more naturally inclined to immediately voice their ideas or thoughts, introverts may not share the same propensity. Yet in many meeting environments, there can be an implicit pressure to contribute right away. Additionally, introverts tend to need more time to thoroughly process the various inputs and perspectives shared by others, which can make it appear as though they are not fully engaged. With these factors in mind, there are a few key things that introverts should consider doing before, during and after a meeting.

Before the meeting Since Introverts do not usually think on their feet, we suggest Introverts spend more time preparing for meetings. it is recommended that they spend more time preparing for meetings. This could involve requesting the meeting agenda in advance and dedicating around 30 minutes to research the topics you will be involved with, jotting down key points. If you are not accustomed to addressing a group, it does not hurt to rehearse your intended contributions a few times before the actual meeting. Research has shown that imagining the situation as vividly as possible while rehearsing is effective in reducing stress during the actual presentation. Proper preparation is often the crucial first step towards success in these situations.

During the meeting Introverts should try to be the first to speak. This is the opportunity to show your preparedness and leave a good impression. People often give dispositional attention to the information that is presented first, a phenomenon known as the “primacy effect.”. By being one of the first to contribute, you can leave the impression that you were actively participating in the meeting, reducing the chances of being perceived as disengaged. Moreover, when people recall the events of the meeting afterwards, they are more likely to remember the points you made. So even when you cannot respond to other’s input throughout the meeting because it takes more time for you to process, you avoid giving people the idea that you are daydreaming.

After the meeting Just because you may not have actively participated in back-and-forth discussions, the conversation does not necessarily need to end when the meeting concludes. The purpose of a meeting can range from disseminating information to gathering ideas and making decisions. You can still provide your thoughts and contribute to the overall performance of the team, even after the fact. In fact, a post-meeting discussion may actually align well with the personality traits of introverted individuals, as they often feel more comfortable communicating in writing. Setting personality considerations aside, revisiting an issue after a period of time can have inherent value, a phenomenon known as the “incubation effect.” As our minds unconsciously continue to process problems, better solutions or ingenious insights might arise given the time gap. Taking the initiative to document these ideas and share them with your colleagues can foster innovation and effective solutions – outcomes that are likely to work to your advantage when it comes time for performance reviews.

Conclusion

 In conclusion, the key for introverts to thrive in the workplace is to embrace their natural tendencies while also developing complementary extroverted skills. By preparing thoroughly for meetings, actively contributing ideas, and continuing engagement after the fact, introverted professionals can effectively showcase their value and make meaningful contributions.

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